Technical and Vocational Education through open learning trends, developments and issues from a local perspective Technical and Vocational subject areas in many countries seem to be locked to a particular frame work The framework that postulates that TVET is a subject area taught to persons who are academically challenged. It is the notion of many parents and by extension the society that TVET means a plain supplier of skilled labour to the workforce and is unable to be on the same plateau as those persons pursuing medicine or law.
With growing concerns about TVET and the need to share the vision, that it is through TVET that most great inventions are arrived at. A new way of teaching and learning has been adopted and introduced in New Zealand ,it is called open learning.
The changing world of work
TVET policymakers believe that the infusion of open learning and TVET is indeed the way to move forward. Open learning is said to be embracing a new era in our world, one that is moving from the industrial to the knowledge age.
Knowledge is said to be changing and there is an immense need for re-skilling and retooling of persons. According to the article avoidance of embracing this new type of learning could mean that one might be left on the way side of technology.
Trends in distance vocational and technical education and training New Zealand has seen a shift in the work patterns in that there is a decrease in many of the traditional trade –related areas, while there is an increase in the service sectors and the social sciences.
The vocational market is characterized by the need of various skilled persons that will require current competencies; therefore individuals are encouraged to keep abreast with current trends. One of the ways in which New Zealand tries to confront these issue is by introducing the open learning. It has been over emphasized in the article that the world of work is rapidly changing , hence there is the need to upgrade and be reskilled..
Open learning in New Zealand has played a vital role in making TVET more accessible. It requires low cost structure for high volume courses. Even though the government of New Zealand has cut back on expenditure in TVET, there are companies who are injecting capital in the program to make it a possibility.
Address the skills gap
Like many counties New Zealand has generic skills gap, and this is evident at all levels of the work place. The generic gap includes literacy, numeracy, communication and interpersonal skills. It is believed that these generic skills are prerequisites to any sector of the workforce. Surveys were done showing that graduates are more often hired for their learning skills than their specific knowledge. Another key issue is that while many persons are employed in small companies there is little scope for training. There are other problems such as when an institution starts a programs which it deems as a necessity and the program fails due to low student enrollment for that specific course. An example of such a course was developed jointly with a Canadian provider. The course had to be discontinued after three years due to lack of student enrollment.
In regards to qualifications it was stated that TVET(through open learning) is now offering a wide variety of courses, but this is with some amount of drawback as some of these new courses have very little “shelf life”. Staff patterns have to be changed in that facilitators have to be more flexible and be willing to move with the technological era, also the facilitator have to be more focused on the needs of the learner. The facilitator of TVET areas have to be credible even in their own work as open learning faces seamless challenges. The facilitators should have significant and ongoing staff development. Some of the issues outlined in the document included shortening of life knowledge, technology, Quality assurance, Co-operation and competition and the roles and impact of government policies.
Open learning is an avenue that is presenting both teacher and learner a new flexible way of sending and receiving information. Although the union between open learning and TVET has challenges it is embracing the use of technology to present traditional vocational areas in a way that is now accepted by the government and other shareholders. One support for the open learning is the postal system which is very efficient. Open learning also boast its ability to provide quality output which was once limited to studying on traditional campuses. One of the greatest set back to the system is the role of the government in the whole process. Students have been facing undue pressure since the government has been a lot of cutbacks. Open learning is proving that it is the way to enter into the technological sphere. It is flexible, it reinforces , it fosters independent learning, while providing immediate transfer of skills.